Winter Sun City Seclusion: The Chedi Muscat, Oman – Hotel Review
Refined elegance in the capital of Oman
Celebrating its 20th birthday this year, The Chedi Muscat is the ultimate Middle Eastern escape, with its stunning grounds, pose-worthy pools and chic spa. With a beachfront location moments from the city centre, is this the winter sun destination of dreams? asks Siobhan Grogan.
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Hotel Review: The Chedi Muscat, Oman
Prepare to be wowed. Considered the most beautiful hotel in Oman, The Chedi Muscat is a striking, minimalist marvel designed by acclaimed architect Jean-Michel Gathy. Though only 20 minutes from Muscat’s airport – and even closer to the capital’s busy streets and souk – the hotel itself is akin to a tranquil beach retreat devoted to relaxing and recharging.
The Al Hajar Mountains are on one side, a 370-metre private beach and the glittering Gulf of Oman on the other. Elsewhere, there are geometric, palm-tree lined gardens, tennis courts and possibly the world’s swishest gym, complete with shelves lined with vases and coffee table books. There are also three pools to choose from – one the longest in the Middle East – with loungers the size of sofas and staff doling out watermelon kebabs to sunbathers.
The 162 Omani-inspired rooms are spread throughout the hotel’s brilliantly white, low-rise villas, which are interspersed with water features, courtyards and fountains. Inside, rooms are uncluttered, Japanese-style spaces with dim lighting, dark teak wood and black marble.
Suites have sunken baths big enough for an entire family, crystal decanters of complimentary vodka, gin and whiskey, and tall hurricane lamps which are lit by oversized candles before your return from dinner each evening. Some include club lounge access, which is well worth the extra charge as it includes a daily afternoon tea and cocktail hour, airport transfers and complimentary laundry service.
At The Chedi Muscat, it’s tempting to do very little at all but drift from pool to restaurant and back. If you’re really in need of downtime, there are complimentary yoga classes and a 1,500 sqm spa which offers seafront relaxation rooms scented with the frankincense Oman is renowned for.
Beyond The Chedi’s white walls, Muscat is a must-do for museums, its traditional souk, and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which is just moments from the hotel. A breath-taking example of elegant Islamic architecture, the mosque’s prayer hall is well worth the visit, featuring the world’s second largest single piece carpet, which took 600 women four years to weave.
Ask the hotel to arrange a trip out of the city too. The Hajar Mountains are the highest range on the eastern Arabian Peninsula and are a hiker’s paradise, with crumbling ancient villages, 17th century fortresses and dramatic gorges to explore. But for a really unmissable adventure, grab the chance to spend a night in the Sharqiya desert with the Canvas Club. Trek to the camp by camel as the sun sets over the dunes, then feast on Omani dishes cooked over an open fire under a blanket of stars. You won’t be roughing it, either: spacious Bedouin tents have four poster beds, carpets and solar lamps for a truly unforgettable night’s sleep.
With six restaurants to choose from, you won’t go hungry at The Chedi. (I could have spent hours working my way through the extensive pastry section at breakfast alone.) For lunch, eat by the water at the Chedi pool for tapas and wraps, or choose the Serai pool cabana for halloumi salads, mezze and delicious chicken shawarma. The Lobby Lounge is the place for lingering over afternoon tea under the palm trees – but, if you visit on a Friday, don’t miss the lavish brunch at The Restaurant. Popular with wealthy local families and ex-pats, expect live music, freshly cooked Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, and the dessert buffet of dreams.
By night, the whole resort flickers with candles and flaming torches, so romantic dinners are guaranteed. The Long Pool Cabana serves exquisite sushi and sashimi around poolside fire pits. Or book a table on the patio at The Beach Restaurant, steps from the seafront; the menu goes all-out to impress with caviar, oysters and freshly caught seafood – just save room for the hazelnut mousse with praline and caramel nougat afterwards.
THE FINAL WORD
The Chedi Muscat is a city centre hotel that feels more like a secluded beach resort. It’s the perfect base to explore this scenic country and its fascinating capital, yet also wind down with sophisticated dining and glamorous poolside lounging. All this and year-round sunshine, too.
Rooms at The Chedi Muscat start from £450 (plus taxes) per night. ghmhotels.com
Oman Air flies direct to Muscat daily with prices from £699 in economy and £2999 in Business class. omanair.com
Featured image: The Watergardens at The Chedi Muscat.
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